Daily Show's Colbert Gets Series

By Anne Becker -- Broadcasting & Cable, 5/3/2005 4:00:00 PM

The Daily Show's delightfully deadpan comic/correspondent Stephen Colbert is getting his own half-hour, late-night show on MTV Networks' Comedy Central.

The Colbert Report, slated for a September/October premiere on the comedy cable net, will spoof personality-dominated news shows like Bill O'Reilly and Anderson Cooper 360.

Comedy is currently preparing to shoot test shows in what is the first project in a first-look development deal with Jon Stewart's Busboy Productions.

The show will be co-produced by Spartina Productions, with Stewart, Daily Show executive producer Ben Karlin, and Colbert as executive producers.

The Colbert Report is part of Comedy's effort to beef up its late-night programming to capitalize on The Daily Show's popularity. Stewart is committed to his show at least through the end of 2008.

By the end of summer, schedulers will decide whether to air Colbert or the third new late-night show, a yet-untitled Adam Carolla project, at 11:30 weeknights following Daily Show.

Options for the premieres include airing the two back to back following Daily Show, or staggering the two so each show gets a shot at the 11:30 p.m. lead-out spot. "It's hard we're really playing with the puzzle as we speak," said VP Programming/head of development Lauren Corrao. "As much as possible, we want to go seamlessly between The Daily Show and Stephen," she said, but said she wasn't suggesting a front-runner. "The idea was to bring as many great comedic talents to the network to build our original brand further into the night."

And further into the week as well.

Expanding the franchise also means into the weekend. for the first time since at least 1997, Comedy Central will air an original series at 11 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, instead of a mix of repeats.

Starting July 29, the network will fill the 11 p.m. slot Friday through Sunday with a D.L. Hughley-hosted half-hour, Weekends at the DL.

Carolla's show, from his Jackhole Industries production company, with Jimmy Kimmel and Daniel Kellison, will be a take on pop culture news, with an opener, one celebrity guest, live calls from viewers and pre-taped man-on-the-street interviews by the comic. A pilot has been shot.

Weekends at the DL, which has a 13-week, 39-episode commitment, will be shot in front of an audience and feature a monologue, live band, field segments and a roundtable discussion on pop culture with three guests. A pilot has been shot.

Comedy has several pilots in production for fourth quarter launches, eyeing one weekly showbiz satire for prime in particular. It will premiere live-action half-hour Stella June 29 and Mind of Mencia July 7.

Comedy will also pair with Chris Rock on a diversity program for student writers this summer, rotating them through the network's divisions in eight-week internships designed to improve their comedy skills and teach them about the industry.

East Coast colleges Columbia, NYU, Brooklyn College, Emerson and Howard have signed on as partners. Comedy hopes to expand the program to the West Coast.

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